Canada: Is The Canada-EU CETA Dead? An Update

Last Updated: October 25 2016
Article by Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

As a trade lawyer, I remain optimistic that the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement ("CETA") will be signed. I am not ready to issue a "call of death"; but I am closer to that call than I was last week. The problem is that Canada is finished negotiations of the CETA and will not reopen the agreement for further modifications and concessions. Wallonia has indicated it will oppose the CETA unless the investment chapter is reopened and rewritten to remove the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. Further, Belgium has indicated that three jurisdictions oppose the CETA. This means that the CETA deal is in critical condition.

However, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council has tweeted:

"Together with PM @JustinTrudeau, we think Thursday's summit still possible. We encourage all parties to find a solution. There's yet time."

@CanadianPM tweeted:

"PM Trudeau and @eucopresident agree that the EU and its member states should continue to work towards the Summit on Thursday. #CETA"

This may mean that heroic measures are being taken to revive the dying CETA. Prime Minister Trudeau's plane is ready to fly to Europe and give CETA CPR.


Before I discuss about where we are and where we are going, we need to review where we came from:

  • In June 2007, Canada and the European Commission agreed to conduct a joint study examining the costs and benefits of pursuing a closer economic partnership.
  • In October 2008, Canada and the EU issued a joint study entitled "Assessing the Costs and Benefits of a Closer EU-Canada Economic Partnership".
  • In March 2009, the joint report was finalized.
  • In May 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, EU President Mirek Topolánek and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, announced the launch of CETA negotiations.
  • In October 2009, Canada and the EU engaged in the first round of CETA negotiations.
  • By October 2011, nine formal rounds of CETA negotiations are completed.
  • In October 2013, Prime Minister Harper and José Manuel Barroso announced that Canada and the EU had reached an agreement in principle.
  • In August 2014, Canada and the EU announced that they had reached a complete text of the Canada-EU CETA, marking the conclusion of negotiations. Canada and the EU commenced the legal review and translation of the text into the other 22 EU treaty languages.
  • In September 2014, Canada and the EU released the text of the CETA.
  • In February 20916, a joint statement is issued by Canada and the EU after CETA is revised to address concerns within the EU.
  • In July 2016, the revised text of CETA is released.
  • In October 2016, Canada meets with counterparts in the EU to address additional concerns.
  • On October 13, 2016, a German Court dismisses a legal case brought to block CETA.
  • On October 14, 2016, Wallonia's Parliament indicates they will veto CETA.
  • Canada and the EU work on a joint declaration to clarify the CETA and reinforce some important points in an attempt to alleviate the concerns of Wallonia.
  • On October 21, 2016, the negotiations break-down due to demands by Wallonia.
  • On October 22, 2016, Martin Schultz has meetings with Canada and Wallonia and announces that more time is needed.
  • On October 24, 2016, Charles Michel, President of Belgium said that Wallonia and two other jurisdictions will not sign off. Mr. Paul Magnette said that Wallonia will not be pressured by the European Commission to sign on for CETA.

Where are we now?

On October 21, 2016, Mr. Paul Magnette attempted to extract more concessions out of Canada because he believed that he had Canada backed in a corner. At this point. Canada's Trade Minister Chrystia Freedland walked out of the negotiations (as she should). She issued the following statements:

"Canada has worked, and I personally have worked very hard, but it is now evident to me, evident to Canada, that the European Union is incapable of reaching an agreement even with a country with European values such as Canada, even with a country as nice and as patient as Canada."

"Canada is disappointed and I personally am disappointed, but I think it's impossible. We are returning home. At least I will see my three children tomorrow at our home."

She indicated that she was heading home to Canada – but stayed in Belgium overnight to attend meetings in the morning of October 22.

As at 8:30 AM on October 22, 2016, Canada's Trade Minister Chrystia Freedland correctly stated that "[t]he ball is in Europe's court and it's time for Europe to finish doing its job." Canada is not prepared to reopen the CETA again so that Wallonia can extract further concessions.

Minister Freeland is now on Canadain soil and gave a press conference at 1:45PM on October 24, 2016. Minister Freeland clearly stated that:

"CETA isn't dead";
"the ball is in Europe's court";
"it is entirely up to EU to overcome opposition";
"The problems on the table are European problems";
"For us, it is a good agreement ... we are ready to sign it";
"Today all the Europeans, including the Wallooons, have public accepted that Canada's job is done"; and

Paul Magnette (Wallonia) said "Negotiations with the Canadians are over and we are pleased with the results of the negotiations."

In short, Canada is ready, willing and able to sign the CETA this Thursday (October 27).

Where do we go from here?

First, Thursday is an arbitrary deadline. However, if there is no deadline, there will be no momentum. If there is no momentum, the CETA will stall. An open ended time period will surely result in a flat-lining of CETA.

Second, there is not much that Canada can do while the European Union addresses their internal issues.

Third, if the Thursday deadline passes and CETA flatlines, we might have to wait for the European Court of Justice ("ECJ") decision regarding the EU-Singapore challenge on ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement). It is only if local governmetn approval is not required can the CETA be revived.

Fifth, to the extent that Wallonia is worried about a future trade negotiation with the United States, Canada cannot fight that ghost of the future. It is unlikely that President Clinton or President Trump will be able to commence comprehensive negotiations with the EU (especially in light of Brexit) and even less likely that the United States will be the giver in the negotiations. The United States is not going to just sign on to accede to CETA – that will never happen.

It would be very helpful to Canadians if the Walloons clearly articulate the problems that the European Commission must overcome. At this point, there is an understanding that it has something to do with:

  1. agriculture,
  2. the Investment Chapter and the Investor-State Dispute Settlement;
  3. environmental, labour and consumer protection legislation;
  4. hormones in beef; and
  5. a perceived issue with sovereignty.

That being said, it is important for Canada to understand the specific concerns that need to be addressed and whether further clarifications (not concessions) are in Canada's best interests. If Canada determines that further language relating to the Investment Chapter would benefit Canadians, it may possible to offer such clarifications to allow Wallonia to save face. If Canada determines that there are benefits to Canada by addressing additional concerns, why wouldn't we.

Finally, what might hold Canada and the EU back is Article XXIV of GATT, which requires that in any new free trade agreement "the duties and other restrictive regulations of commerce (except, where necessary, those permitted under Articles XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV and XX) [must be] eliminated on substantially all the trade between the constituent territories in products originating in such territories."

If the EU cannot sign a trade agreement with Canada, it is unlikely that the EU can negotiate any trade agreements. Any future negotiating country will be nervous about these types of last minute obstructions. After all parties put their best offers on the table, after the agreement is negotiated, after the text is translated into all necessary languages, after the language is scrubbed, after further modifications are made, after joint interpretative note is developed, there should not be a reopening of the text. That is not negotiation in good faith. Wallonia should have raised the issues sooner and if they did, the compromise had been reached long ago.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions